Source: Former Zipra combatants fume – Sunday News Jul 9, 2017
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
A CONFLICT is brewing in Bulawayo with former Zipra combatants threatening to forcibly occupy Castle Arms Motel in Richmond suburb and repossess all the buildings and farms they say belong to them.
The former Zipra combatants met at an emotionally charged meeting at Castle Arms Motel yesterday and the ex-fighters demanded to know who was benefiting from their properties while “they wallow in poverty”.
The meeting brought together former Zipra fighters who now belong to different groupings with some coming from as far as Mashonaland West Province. The three Matabeleland Provinces, Bulawayo, Matabeleland South and North as well as Midlands were also represented.
Chairman of the Zipra War Veterans Trust Cde Casper Sibanda said they were liaising with the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association chairman for Bulawayo Cde Cephas Ncube to map the way forward and possibly acquire what rightfully belongs to them.
“As war veterans groupings we need to come together and fight for one cause as we are both former Zipra forces. We need to get our properties back and it is possible only if we are united,” said Cde Sibanda.
He said they wanted to set up an office for Zipra war veterans at Castle Arms Motel but were being barred from doing so.
“We came here intending to assess the situation as we wanted to open our office because we do not have money to rent out a place. We were met with a lot of resistance and the police were even deployed. We were locked out the last time we came here. There were padlocks. But we removed them and put our own and still we came back and found them changed.
“We do not know now who to ask about this property and the biggest challenge is that the building has attracted debts with the city council and Zesa.
When these service providers want to auction the property for non-payment who will stop them? Who is responsible for it?” he questioned.
He said Castle Arms Motel now had tenants who were occupying the place and the war veterans do not know who brought them, who collects rentals and what the money was being used for. The war veterans alleged that Cde George Mlala is said to have gone to the place with some property which the war veterans were not impressed with. Allegations are that the late former chairman Cde Themba Ncube left his lover Sinikiwe Sibanda and her son living at the place and she boasts of having documentation that allows her to stay at Castle Arms.
he chairman said the property was bought for business purposes and not for residential purposes and said those occupying the place have to vacate.
Another war veteran and Bulawayo bsuinessman Cde John Gazi who said he was appointed to look at how many properties belonged to Zipra said there were 52 properties.
“Zipra has 52 properties that are registered; some were sold over the years. When we consulted over the handover of the properties we were told that some of them are being claimed by several people which makes the take-over difficult. Nitram PVT LTD which represents Zipra interests said there are some people who are holding on to the properties. We paid for these properties and we should benefit not greedy people,” he lamented.
A representative of war veterans from Mashonaland West said people should not be scared to claim what belongs to them. He said lawyers needed to be appointed to stand for the war veterans so that they were not duped of what belongs to them. The lawyers, he said, should be paid from rentals generated from their properties.
Cde Molly Mpofu from Bulawayo Province said Castle Arms Motel could be used as a venue for weddings and other events.
“This place can bring us money if we refurbish it, we can green it and use it as a wedding venue and other functions. However, we need to guard this place day and night so that looters have no room to come in. Over $1 000 is being generated from this place and one of your girlfriends here is controlling us,” she fumed.
A farm along Kezi Road was mentioned and is being run by Charles Chiponda while Ascot Farm in Gweru is also occupied by an unknown farmer. Cde Naison Mashasha the war veterans vice-chairman in Bulawayo and Cde Mitsho Ndlovu provincial secretary for war veterans who belong to the Mandi Chimene and Mlala group were both disowned by the meeting saying they were not fit to go and look into Zipra properties.
A majority of members in the meeting said only Cde Dumiso Dabengwa was fit to identify the properties. The war veterans said they were let down by the board of trustees who did not turn up for the meeting to give an update of the goings on. A resident at Castle Arms said they collected at least $1 500 in rentals each month.